Int’l poll observers laud Somaliland’s presidential elections

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International observers have lauded the Monday’s presidential elections in Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Somaliland, which they described as “peaceful and well organized.”

Chief observer of the 60-member mission Michael Walls noted that the polls largely opened and closed on time, in a generally calm environment, with peaceful voting, and no major violence or intimidation observed.

“Overall the mission assessed the competence and actions of staff as generally good, and we applaud Somaliland for an election that was largely peaceful and well-organized,” he said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

He said they observed a poll that seems to have preserved the integrity of the electoral process but noted some limitations to voter education which he said may have had implications as voters appeared unsure as to how to vote.

“While we are aware of some key concerns, these do not seem to be substantive and systematic enough to have undermined the election itself, and we congratulate Somaliland on a largely peaceful process; another progressive step in their electoral evolution,” Walls added.

The statement came as vote counting is underway in the former British protectorate which held its presidential election on Monday.

Three candidates competed to replace President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, who opted not to seek re-election. All have resolved to pursue international recognition as well fight unemployment and improve education.

The observers who draw its members from 27 countries witnessed opening, voting and closing processes in approximately 350 polling stations across Somaliland’s six regions, as well as the tallying process.

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